PORTLAND – Before South Salem High School’s girls basketball players could dribble a basketball Saturday, they had more excitement than they anticipated.
South Salem star Evina Westbrook forgot her jersey at the Chiles Center after the team’s heartbreaking loss Friday night to Oregon City in the semifinals of the OSAA Class 6A state tournament.
There was a small scramble as head coach Nick McWilliams left the team while they were on their way to lunch eat at Red Robin near Lloyd Center.
As the team came out of the restaurant Saturday afternoon, they saw two people – a man and a woman – had broken two windows out of their team bus and were in the process of stealing players’ bags out of the bus.
“They were in the process of throwing all the bags to the back of the bus,” said assistant coach Mark Burleson. “I think they were trying to gather everything in the back of the bus. While we walked up, the vehicle was alongside our bus. I noticed that the door was open.
“While we were running over, the female got out of our bus, but had already thrown a couple bags in. We kind of surrounded the vehicle, we got a couple bags out of the back, and they basically peeled through us across the intersection and then took a left. Then we called 911.”
South Salem’s players had surrounded the car and got some of the bags back from the burglars before they got away.
But the burglars stole bags of four players, and they had to have replacement jerseys brought to the Chiles Center by South Salem athletic director Brian Armstrong Saturday before the game.
In the process of the burglary, senior Faith Schuetz had her hand bitten by the burglars’ dog and Westbrook was grazed by the get-away car.
“Evina had to jump out of the way,” McWilliams said.
“Needless to say the girls were shaken up by that. We’re trying to regroup right now. I think they’re a pretty resilient group. I think they’ll be ready to come to battle when the time comes.”